Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Two Meta Issues

1) I've become aware that blogger is eating some comments that contain URLs. It isn't doing it for my comments, and I actually do see the comments that are eaten (they're emailed to me same as all others, hence I often don't notice that they never actually make it onto the site), they just don't show for whatever reason. I don't know if I'm special as the proprietor, or if certain commenters have been flagged by the system as possible spammers. I also don't know how to fix it, and, given it's finals season and the identity of the most-affected commenters, I don't really care right now either. But I did want to register my awareness of the situation.

2) The story behind the name of this blog is simple: I was a debater in high school, and wanted to have a space where I could present arguments and sources to the debate community. Very rapidly, this blog moved away from that mission, but the name stuck (at one point I considered changing it to "The Dissenting Opinion", but I felt it was already too late. Ditto with changing the URL). Hence, the title of this blog ought not be taken as providing any explicit or implicit commitment to running my comments section in any particular way. It is, more or less, a historical accident.

At this stage, the purpose of the blog is to give me an outlet for my writing and a place to hash out my thoughts. That project is aided by intelligent interlocutors (agreeing or disagreeing). This being the internet, though, "intelligent interlocutors" are in short supply. To the extent that certain readers have historically helped deepen my understanding of issues, I'm grateful (I think those commenters know who they are, and I do wish they'd participate more often, though I understand why they don't). But I don't give participation ribbons, and don't see my comments section as an open invitation for trolls to roll in the mud with each other. My sole criterion for participation on my site via my comment threads is whether or not I, in my sole discretion, feel like there is a positive contribution being made. If one doesn't like that, Blogger is free! Start your own site. Link to me and rip/laud me to your hearts content. I may even respond. Or I may not.

Most comment boards are awful. I can think of two exceptions, Alas, a Blog, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it is no accident that both are heavily moderated. Unfortunately, Blogger as a platform doesn't give me the moderating tools I'd need to replicate their environment (and I don't have a broad enough readership base anyway). So unless I want to start deleting comments one-by-one, I'm forced to rely on self-regulation, and that's typically been a massive failure.


joe said...

Given your impassioned speech about public/private distinctions (to say nothing of your proud showcasing of bloggy awards sd tribute to your Important Intellect) it's a little cringe-worthy that your blog just conveniently happens to fall into the private sphere, as much as you DO write about things that certainly implicates the rights of others. But whatever, that's just a long line in the critiques of this blog's ipse dixit tendencies, and indeed most blogs seem to be like that.

As for commenting, here's an idea. If some commenters are so risible, just tell them they're banned, but don't beat around the bush and say you really don't like their posting style and whatever else and then respond because for whatever reason you think something requires a response. (Now personally, I think at least in the cases where you conspicuously try to showcase Wittgenstein or whoever else you once read it's a fairly obvious ploy of academic bluster to cover up logical holes that on some level you realize exist. But that's just my two cents.) I can pretty much guarantee I won't abuse Blogger's moderation shortcomings if banned in this way, though I'd ask that there be no bad faith potshots at me in particular after the fact.

N. Friedman said...


I think that David is perfectly ok to define his blog as he prefers, whether consist or inconsistent with his own pronouncements. Those consistencies and inconsistencies are among the stuff about which critique is appropriate for any blogger. And, since blogs are rarely the result of considered thought, David does better than most. He tends, of course, to be hyper-sensitive on some topics, but, again, that is his right.

joe said...

It certainly is his right to define it as he prefers, but it seems a bit strange to bemoan the state of his comment section, heap scorn on commenters who he claims make no positive contribution to his mission, note that he has no obligation to provide any kind of forum for debate, and then not explicitly ban us.

N. Friedman said...


Consider that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
Which is to say, perhaps David is not quite as doctrinaire as you believe and that, instead, he merely means to show his hand, not use it.

mya said...

this is so meta!

Rebecca said...

Awww, Slacktivist has a great comment section and it's pretty much completely unmoderated.